Political shake-up under spotlight at meeting

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THE biggest political shake-up in Whitby and some if its neighbouring villages for 25 years will be put under the microscope at a meeting next week.

A consultation document has been submitted to Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) by Whitby Town Council (WTC) which sets out a case for Whitby breaking free from borough council control and becoming part of the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA).

The move will be discussed by borough councillors on 15 February at a meeting of SBC’s cabinet.

The town council’s proposals would also include Eskdaleside-cum-Ugglebarnby parish - predominantly Sleights village - Lythe including Sandsend and Newholme-cum- Dunsley parish.

If they were to become part of the National Park, it would mean stronger rules and regulations on planning and environmental issues, conservation and sustainable tourism.

The town council argues Whitby and the villages listed in its proposal would have been included in the national park, had the current boundary setting criteria been in place when the North York Moors National Park was established in 1952.

The independent public body, Natural England which aims to protect and improve the country’s natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings, is expected to release new guidance soon on what should be included within National Parks which would influence any decision affecting Whitby.

In a report to councillors by SBC’s head of legal services Ian Anderson said: “Without support from affected public bodies the prospect of the proposal from the town council progressing is significantly reduced and a public inquiry would be required.

“It is understood that Natural England have some 44 areas awaiting review for consideration for designation as National Park.”

WTC has circulated its document to Natural England, the NYMNPA, North Yorkshire County Council and SBC although it has not yet consulted with residents or published its vision on its website.

In his report, Mr Anderson recommends reviewing the impact of the town council’s recommendations as well as letters to be sent to the parishes affected asking for their comments on the town council’s proposal.

He also asks the cabinet to agree not to respond formally to the town council document until they have received detailed planning and tourism advice, comments from the parishes along with the revised guidance from Natural England.

In the town council’s document it makes a series of points arguing for the town’s and nearby villages inclusion in the national park. These include:

*Whitby’s economy being linked with the National Park

*Whitby has served as a “safety valve” for the national park by satisfying much of the demand for second holiday homes within the park. As a result house prices in Whitby match those within the National Park.

*English Heritage has identified Whitby as one of the two historic towns most at risk in the Yorkshire and Humberside region and including Whitby in the park, would afford it the highest level of protected area status.